“If you can read this, then you need to thank a teacher!” How many times have you seen and read this on a bumper sticker or billboard? Well, if you can read, then you know exactly what I am talking about. In fact, if you can read, then you are already well on your way in finishing this article with a better understanding of the topic.
Illiteracy has been a national concern since the mid-1900’s. During this time, our nation was deeply rooted in segregation, with many minorities in very low income areas unable to read or write.
Many of the issues within the United States have a part to do with the illiteracy issue. Literacy is learned. Illiteracy is passed along by parents who cannot read or write. One child in four will grow to an adult not knowing how to read. Three out of four food stamp recipients perform in the lowest two literacy levels within the United States.
Reading is a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning (reading comprehension). It is a means of language acquisition, of communication, and sharing information and ideas. Like all language, it is a complex interaction between the text and the reader which is shaped by the reader’s prior knowledge, experiences, attitude and language community which is culturally and socially situated.
The reading process requires continuous practice, development and refinement. In addition, reading requires create cavity critical analysis. Consumers of literature make ventures with each piece, innately deviating from literal words to create images that make sense to them in the unfamiliar places the texts described. Because reading is such a complex process, it cannot be controlled or restricted to one or two interpretations.
Statistically, 90 percent of welfare recipients are high school drop outs. It is also reported that 16-19 year old girls at the poverty level and below, with below average reading skills, are six times more likely to have out-of-wedlock children, who in turn will have below average reading skills or none at all.
Other U.S. statistics concerning illiteracy are:
15 percent of the United States population has specific reading disorders.
46 percent of American adults cannot understand the labels on their pharmaceutical prescriptions.
15 percent of U.S. students are dyslexic.
33 percent of U.S. high school graduates never read a book after high school.
50 percent of U.S. adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book.
56 percent of young people claim they read fewer than 10 books a year.
There are some reports that show that the rate of low literacy in the United States directly cost the healthcare industry over $17 million every year.
Almost 85 percent of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.
As of 2011, America was the only free market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less educated than the previous one.
Economic security, access to health care and the ability to actively participate in civic life all depend on an individual’s ability to read.
Sadly, the literacy rate in the United States hasn’t changed for the better in 10 years. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 14 percent of adult Americans have demonstrated a “below basic” literacy level level in 2003, and 29 percent exhibited a “basic” reading level. The most recent of these studies was completed in 2003, and 1992 before that.
Students who don't read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school. In 2013, Washington, D.C. was ranked the most literate American city for the third year in a row, with Seattle and Minneapolis close behind. Long Beach, California was ranked the country’s most illiterate city, followed by Mesa, Arizona and Aurora, Colorado.
Start a book club to keep your peers reading.